I took a class at Works In Progress NYC called “Introduction to Textile Screen Printing” and not only did I learn to screen print, I produced more than 50 shirts the same day!
I love the work I do for my clients, but because I’m at my computer making art all day every day, when I get an extra-curricular creative itch, I tend to step away from the screen and create with my hands; this latest out-of-office exploration ironically ended up taking me from one screen to another… but definitely fulfilled all my hands-on hopes!
Back in December, I went to a screen printing workshop hosted by Domino Magazine with Pamela Bell of the feminist design studio Prinkshop.
It was amazing. We got to screen print Prinkshop designs onto shirts, totes, and paper and take all our work home—heaven!
We were assisted by an employee from the studio that actually produces all of Prinkshop’s shirts, Works In Progress, who let us know about an intensive full-day screen printing course they offer where we could produce our own designs. Another workshop attendee and I chatted about it for about two seconds and decided we were in.
For our Saturday class in early February at WIP’s East Village studio, we had a small group of six students (the class requires a minimum of four) to our two instructors. The class was amazingly thorough and our fantastic, patient, and super-knowledgable instructors were really dedicated to making sure every one of us could leave the class able to screen print on our own to our hearts’ content. Their passion for the work was tangible, inspirational, and invigorating.
I did a little research and discovered that in addition to Prinkshop, of course, WIP produces pieces for VFILES and Opening Ceremony. It was an incredible privilege to be in the same space as these amazing brands, using the same equipment and inks, while standing next to the actual screens that were used to make some of my favorite outfits.
For $100 and six hours of a Saturday, here’s how it went down at Works In Progress’ introduction to screen printing class:
- A few days prior, I sent in my artwork for a one-color design so it could be rendered on film and ready the day of.
- When we arrived, we got a tour of the space and a basic overview of the steps and what we’d be learning about that day.
- We sat down for instruction on screen printing concepts like the differences between polymer and water-based inks, the basics of spot colors and half tones, more advanced options like foil and discharge, and were given lots of examples to see and touch.
- Although our films were ready for us when we arrived, they took us through to process of creating artwork for screen printing and best practices for using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to creating and print images for exposure.
- From there we headed into the dark room to learn about photo emulsion and how to actually create the screens we’d be using.
- We went through the process of exposing our screens, then each took our turns with the hose washing out the exposed screens and getting excited as we saw our designs “magically” appear.
- After a quick lunch break around the corner at Atlas Café, it was back to work.
- We got our screens locked in, chose our inks, got a lesson in different techniques (I even got to try out gold foil!), then got to WERK:
- Shirt on the table, screen down, scrape the ink over, lift the screen, plop the shirt on the conveyer for heat fixing, then onto the next one. Over the course of about 90 minutes, I made over 50 shirts!
I went home sore, exhausted, with a bulging shopping bag of shirts I designed and produced myself, self-satisfied and smiling from ear-to-ear.
There’s nothing like making something with your own hands and I definitely want more of this in my life.
P.S. I would absolutely take the class again and actually plan to do so soon. Wanna join me? Let me know!
P.P.S. If you want a shirt for a wee one in your life, you can purchase one here.